BEPPINA AND THE KITCHENS OF AREZZO
Life and Culinary History
in an Ancient Tuscan City
‘One day, while walking down Arezzo’s ancient Via Madonna del Prato, I noticed a small antique shop – the window was full of pretty oddments, china, Venetian glass, small pieces of silver. Inside, the fifteenth century vaulted room was lined with book shelves. I asked the owner if he had any cookery books for sale. He showed me a copy of the 5th edition of La Scienza in Cucina e L’Arte di Mangiar Bene by Pellegrino Artusi (Science in the Kitchen and the Art of Eating Well). Between the Index and the back cover lay a bundle of papers covered in copperplate handwriting; recipes which had been collected by the book’s original owner, a woman called Beppina. Here, was a microcosm of the culinary taste of the Aretine upper middle-class during the Belle Époque. Beppina’s recipes form a vital link in the ancient chain of Aretine culinary history and they inspired me to write this book.’
So begins Elizabeth Romer’s exploration of the culinary traditions of the beautiful, Tuscan city of Arezzo, stretching from Etruscan and Roman times right up to the markets, gardens and kitchens of the present day. Here, you will find beloved recipes and opinions about food that strongly express the character of Arezzo’s citizens, past and present. In the 1500s, the famed Pietro Aretino exalted simple food, and today, dishes made with fresh, local ingredients prepared in that same manner are still essential to the Aretine way of life.
Elizabeth Romer was born in Wales and studied textile design at the Royal College of Art. In 1966 Elizabeth and her husband John Romer left London for Egypt where they worked on epigraphic expeditions in the tombs and temples of Luxor, and excavated in the Valley of the Kings. In 1972 they acquired a farmhouse in Tuscany where she was inspired to write her first book, The Tuscan Year (1984), now considered a classic of culinary literature. In 1988 her second book, Italian Pizza and Hearth Breads, won the IACP/Seagram Award for Single Subject Books. Elizabeth has illustrated all of her own books and many of her husband’s works on ancient Egypt.
To read a short extract from the book, please click here.